Shoplifters of the World Review: Ode to 80's Adolescence Works

Stephen Kijaks' Shoplifters of the World is the kind of coming-of-age story that works only if you're invested in the characters. A microcosm of the 80s, the film takes place in 1987, and a group of friends just found out their favorite band, English rockers the Smiths, broke up. Obviously, it makes a limited compelling film if they spent the whole film dwelling on it because they have their lives ahead of them, and they're each trying to figure out their next step in addition to coping with the loss of their favorite band.

Shoplifters of the World: Director Stephen Kijak on Film's Inspiration
Image courtesy of RLJE Films.

Cleo (Helena Howard) loathes her supermarket job and had dreams of living abroad. Sheila (Elena Kampouris) wants to consummate her relationship with Patrick (James Bloor), who's adamant about his celibacy. Billy (Nick Krause) faces his own uncertainty dangling his future in the Army. Meanwhile, Dean (Ellar Coltrane) takes his mourning one step further and stages a takeover of his local radio station, holding the local DJ Full Metal Mickey (Joe Manganiello) hostage at gunpoint and orders him to play nothing but Smiths songs to give their fans one last hurrah.

Shoplifters of the World: Director Stephen Kijak on Film's Inspiration
Image courtesy of RLJE Films.

As the title itself is a reference to a Smiths' song, Shoplifters of the World contains 20 tracks from the band. I found myself not really drawn into most of the characters as they're largely set in their ways. The deepest performance, I'd say, comes from Manganiello, who might be the likely target audience of the film from an outsider's point of view. For those who were fans of the Smiths' and Morrissey, there are certainly enough Easter Eggs along the way to speak in ways casual fans wouldn't pick up right away, which is a testament to Kijak's past experience in documentaries with musician subjects. It's a deep slice of life of teen ennui that would make fans of John Hughes and Cameron Crowe proud. The film also stars Thomas Lennon, who doesn't have any presence beyond the film's beginning. The film is currently in theatres, on-digital, and on-demand.

Shoplifters of the World: Director Stephen Kijak on Film's Inspiration
Courtesy of RLJE Films

 

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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